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November 5, 2004

Special K

Just realized this is my first entry in about 2 months. Sorry about that. Fact is, throughout October, nothing really noteworthy happened career-wise. Mostly, I’d do my show at night and work for John Kerry during the day. And no need to give me your condolences. Truth is, it’s not over. There are many indications that Bush didn’t win fair and square, and if you wanna read about it, go here, here, or here. And keep paying attention. If you thought the campaign was ugly, just you wait.


But you didn’t come here to read about politics! You came to read my self-indulgent rantings! Well let’s have at it then!


Tonight, I got to go on as Khashoggi in We Will Rock You. I normally play the role of Puff, but I also understudy Khashoggi and Pop. If you follow the line of thinking that WWRY is strikingly similar to The Matrix, you could say I normally play Commander Locke, but I understudy Agent Smith and The Oracle. Anyway, our regular Khashoggi (the KICK-ASS Rich Hebert) took the day off to get married, so I’d been looking forward to today for weeks.


Let’s start last night. We go out to a really cool club at Treasure Island called Tangerine, where they’ve hooked us up in the VIP, we’re enjoying a sexy burlesque show which periodically interrupts our dancing to the DJ, and I’m talking to a couple of lovely young Mamma Mia cast members, who, of course, already have boyfriends. Although it’s probably not wise to have a few drinks and hang around cigarette smoke, I’m having a great time and it’s my first chance to let it all hang out since the election, so I go for it. Plus I’m not driving, which is not typical, so I gotta take this rare chance to BOOZE it UP! (just kidding mom, I only had a few)


Next morning I wake up and I think I’m gonna pay sorely for my carelessness. My voice is all but gone. I sound like Barry White when I speak and Gollum when I sing. Fortunately though, after some breakfast, some warming up, and some tea, the voice is back to normal. Spend the day at Red Rock with Tonya and Aspen from the cast, plus Landon and the puppy. It’s beautiful. Again, I realize this is the first time since I got here that I’ve been able to enjoy a Vegas/Nevada attraction. Get home, take a nap, get up, have some In N Out, and get to the theater.


The show’s at 9; the stage manager wants me there by 7:30 to do sound and video check. I get there at 7. I’m not taking any chances. I spend the next hour and a half slowly getting ready and going over my lines and my entrances. One good thing is I get to use Rich’s dressing room – it’s nice to have peace and quiet and privacy. I love the other guys in the ensemble dressing room, but I don’t think I’ve gotten through a single night without them having some kind of sing-along, either to some tired show-tune or some tired 80s pop song.


I end up being ready by about 8:30, just when most of the cast is walking in the door. This is actually really bad, because now I’m just pacing back and forth waiting for the show to start. But when my wonderful friend and fellow understudy Sarah McLellan comes in, she delivers an incredibly sweet and encouraging greeting card that calmed my nerves, if only for a few moments. By the way, I look really cool. Here's some pics: 1, 2, 3. The suit is sweet, except for the fact that I’ve put on a few pounds since my costume fitting, so it’s sorta restricting my breathing – ah, no big deal, I only have to SING! Anyway, they also give me this Flash Gordon belt and some really awesome shades. And with the wig and eyebrow whitening, I look like a young Al Pacino. I intend to make good use of the resemblance when on stage.


FINALLY, it’s time for the show to start. We’re waiting backstage, and someone goes, “Geez, how many people do you have out there?” Apparently, the show is almost sold out. Wow. That doesn’t happen often. So the “overture” starts, and as it winds down, I’m waiting in the video booth for the first scene, between me and pop. So the overture winds down, and down, and then the show… winds down. Cue sad trumpet: wah, wah, wah. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing technical difficulties.” The stage manager announces backstage that one of the hydraulic lifts in the show is not working, so everyone gets together and figures out how they’re gonna work around the fact that many of us enter and exit up or down the lifts. We figure it out, and start the show over. Overture goes, sounds great, and then I do my first scene with Pop. I am WAY nervous, so I have a minor slip on the line “Tell me, little man…”. Instead I revert back to a previous version of the script and call him “old man”, which is not a big deal, but I’m really annoyed at myself, especially bc it was MY idea to change the line to “little man”! Ah well, the scene goes on, I even get a really good laugh at one point, and then it’s over and time for the big opening dance number. But then, everything goes black again. Cue trumpet? Not so fast. The crew, as always, is on it, and woosh, everything’s back to normal. The dance number goes fine, and we’re off!


I come out for my first scene on stage, and when I read one of my lines differently than Rich, I hear Aspen Miller crack up in the audience (She’s not on tonight as Scaramouche (obviously), but she and her husband Landon have come to support me. They are such wonderful friends.) But the differences between me and Rich aren’t limited to acting/vocal style, or the fact that I’m about half his size (the ensemble takes to calling me “Little K” all night – thanks guys). No sir – I figure, I’ve got one shot at this, I’m gonna throw in some of my own ad-libs too, and hey, if some of them are reminiscent of Al Pacino, even better. In the Scaramouche capture scene, it normally ends with her being taken away by the cops and her shouting “Globalsoft = fascism!” to which Rich responds “yeah, yeah, yeah.” But hey, I changed it to “Say hello to my little friends”. In the board room scene, there’s a part where I get angry, and so I tacked on a “Gosh!” to the end of my line. Not funny to anyone who hasn’t seen the hilarious Napoleon Dynamite, which, apparently, means no one in the audience but Aspen and Landon. HAHA. In the song “It’s a Kind of Magic”, there’s an instrumental part where Rich usually either says “I’m king of the world!” or “You’re fired”. I promised the cast something much more ridiculous and inappropriate, and I think I delivered with “I’m gonna have ya naked by the end of this song”. I know it made Aspen and her husband crack up, I could see them falling all over each other. The end of the song gives me an opportunity to riff out a little, and Kacie (tonight's Scaramouche) tells me later it was a great riff. Huge compliment from such a kick-ass singer. I wish the entire scene went that well, but alas, I had another little flub where I cut off the Killer Queen’s line and made the ensemble look dumb. Too bad my screw-up made them look bad. Hopefully no big deal.


Then it’s time for the Big Song. “The Seven Seas of Rhye.” I’m fairly nervous, not just for the song, which is tough, but for the scene, which I’ve consistently screwed up in rehearsals. Well, I get a few laughs, especially from Aspen when I change the line “I’d really rather you not call me pig” to “yeah, probably not a good idea to call me pig.” But, on cue, I completely forget one of the final lines of the scene, just as I always do in rehearsal. Crap! But I pull it out, and the song starts. During the intro, Rich usually has some brilliant adlib, like the night before his wedding, when he said “I feel like a blushing bride” or on election night, when he said “Should I kill ya yet? Too close to call!”. But I started slow, with “It’s my turn now, kids” and then just before my first lyric, channeling Pacino, “I’m just getting warmed up!” I start the song, and it’s all going well. At one point, a thought which had crossed my mind early in the day passes through again: this is the largest group of people I’ve ever sung in front of, and the first time I’ve performed a solo in over a year. But I’m handling it in stride, I think. Here comes the big scary part, the high C followed by the high E. For some reason, I can’t tell if the C is coming out right. I think it is, but I don’t know. Then I slide up to the E, and I know I nail that. Dance break. I’ve got the moves down, since I have been practicing them with my mp3 player every day for the last week (!). And here, Rich usually throws something in which I can’t really hear, but I say, “I know it’s only rock and roll… But I like it!” (I'm pretty proud of that one, cuz it really fits in with my character, a guy who's trying to supress rock but also kinda gets off on it)


The song winds down, and I’m getting tired, so I don’t end it as vocally strong as I’d like to, but it’s OK. I do finish with a final nod to Pacino, a “hooah!” on the last chord. I feel sorta crappy about the song, but people reassure me that it sounded great, so I decide I’m probably being too hard on myself. Still, I do wish I had another shot at it. A bit later, Ty Taylor, an amazing singer and an all-around amazing guy (he’s made paintings for a few of the people in the cast – friends, next time you come over, I’ll show ya the cool one he made me), compliments me on my singing. OK, if I’ve got the Ty stamp of approval, I must’ve rocked! Cool. Show ends, big ovation, lots of fun. Curtain goes down, and everyone is shouting, “Great job Amir” and “Goodbye, Tim!” (it’s his last night). Really, really great. Aspen and Landon come backstage to congratulate me, and it’s just a big ‘ol love fest. Lots of fun. I hope I have another chance to do it, but truth is, Rich is a friggin rock star, he doesn’t miss shows unless he’s physically unable to make it to the theater :). So probably not unless he takes a vacation. But I had a great time, and it was great to have a few friends and fans in the audience there to support me, not to mention the amazing support of the amazing cast.


Much Love.

Read the archives:
My advice for current and aspiring actors (Feb '11)
So long, Amiricans! (Jan '10)
Vancouver! (Nov '09)
Politically Act-ive (Jan '08)
Welcome to the Desert (Jun '07)
In Flux (May '07)
"Which Groundlings show(s) should I see?" (Feb '07)
BackStage Article (Nov '06)
just for the heck of it, Luke Chueh (Mar '06)
Season 2 to come (Feb '06)
Seriously? (Feb '06)
SF Chron: you should be watching Campus Ladies! (Feb '06)
CL news: Giant bra is strapped for a home (Jan '06)
NY Times calls Campus Ladies Hilarious (Jan '06)
LA Times calls CL original and infectious (Jan '06)
Cheryl Hines TV Guide interview (Jan '06)
Hollywood Reporter loves Campus Ladies (Jan '06)
NY Times Business article on Campus Ladies (Jan '06)
OK, it's setting in (Dec '05)
Best... Problem... Ever! (Nov '05)
Gilmo my god! (May '05)
Kicking Aspen (Feb '05)
Goodbye WWRY (Jan '05)
Republicans -- the ultimate in Domestic Abuse (Nov '04)
Special K (Nov '04)
We Will, We Will, ROCK! (Sep '04)
We Will Preview You (Aug '04)
We Will Rehearse You (Jul '04)
Room Raiders / Summertime (Jun '04)
‘We Will Rock You’ Casting (May '04)
Nevermind Nirvana (Mar '04)
The Untitled Onion Movie (Jan '04)
Year in Review (Dec '03)
Second Bombay Dreams callback (Oct '03)
Bombay Dreams callback (Oct '03)
You're Not My Type (Sep '03)
More Making an Ass of Myself (Jul '03)
Shedding (Jun '03)
The Luckiest Man on Earth (May '03)
Snoopy the Intern (Apr '03)
In Pursuit of a Pilot (Mar '03)
The Real Amir (Feb '03)
Legally Blonde 2 (Jan '03)
Osama Yo Mama (Dec '02)
US Army Shoot (Oct '02)
Pimpin' the Studio Lots (Sep '02)
Gambling (Aug '02)

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